What this resource is not
There are many ways to approach Christianity, and starting with the Bible is only one of those.
Once approached, there are many ways of understanding Christianity, as there are many ways of reading, interpreting and understanding the Bible. The intention is to develop resources to support an integrated and coherent understanding, laying the foundations for more subtle and diverse understanding as pupils move into GCSE and beyond. Units are based around an enquiry, exploring varied responses so that Christian diversity is included in the learning.
This project is not the last word in teaching about Christianity! The project has had to recognise its limitations. It cannot do everything that all readers would wish for in a resource. It may offer views of Christianity that are not identical to those of the reader. It may not include exactly the teaching resources that the teacher would like to use tomorrow. It may be offering a different approach to teaching RE, and Christianity specifically, than a teacher would usually employ. But the writers have made choices and sought to build on them.
What not to expect
- This project is not offering a complete RE curriculum. It offers an approach to teaching about Christianity, as part of the wider RE curriculum. The model of making sense, understanding the impact and making connections might offer a way of approaching other religions and beliefs, but it is not intended to be applied beyond the study of Christianity, as its roots are within Christianity’s self-understanding, diverse as that is, rather than with a broader understanding of religion as a whole.
- It is not offering lesson plans. Teachers need to respond to how well their pupils make progress as they plan their teaching and learning. If all pupils grasp the outcomes/building blocks well, they can move on – if not, they may need to select or devise another activity to help pupils become secure in their understanding.
- It is not particularly easy! The model is designed to enable sustained development in understanding over the years pupils are in school, with later learning built upon prior learning. Obviously, teachers coming to it for the first time will find that many pupils do not have the prior learning. This issue will diminish as the approach works its way through the school, but teachers should take this into account in the initial phases of implementing the project.
- It is not an undergraduate degree course in theology. Specialist RE teachers with theology degrees may wish to extend the range of theological perspectives, but our intention was to provide a broadly mainstream understanding of Christian belief and practice, with some awareness of the diversity of views within this. Once pupils grasp this foundation, it is simpler to explore the wider diversity in whatever direction teachers should choose.
- It is not a study of the history of Christianity. Schools can supplement it with connections to the Middle Ages, the Reformation, post-Enlightenment scepticism, the Oxford Movement and Vatican II if they wish!
- It is not an existential search. We could have started with universal existential questions, or contemporary controversial issues, and explored Christian responses to them. We have not done so, preferring to lay down theological foundations, so that pupils have some understanding from which to address the existential questions and controversial issues.
- It is not offering a philosophical or sociological approach to RE: it addresses some philosophical, sociological and psychological questions, but its focus is on an exploration of Christian theology, reflecting on its impact in the lives of Christians and how it might illuminate pupils’ understanding of themselves, others and the world.